« ZurückWeiter »
is a gathering of them; for you know where the carcase is “ there will the crows be gathered together.”
“ It is • eagles,' not crows. You misquote,” said Spiffard.
“ Birds of prey-birds of prey-call them what you will, eagles or crows :these are good fellows. They are consulting—but I know the result-I can't last
He spoke in a husky voice, little above a whisper; but smiled in the face of his friend, and pressed his hand affectionately.
The principal among the many liberal minded medical men of the city, were interested in the welfare of the tragedian. Doctors Cadwallader, Hosack, McLean, and Francis, were · at this moment in consultation. They entered, and Cadwallader, as the oldest, communicated their opinion in as gentle terms as he could devise ; for they had thought proper to notify the sick man that he had but a few hours to live.
“ Doctor,” said the patient, in the same low whisper, but with a look that seemed to contradict their opinion, “ we must all play the principal part in life's last scene, and I am favoured in having such prompters and actors with me." He then added, with levity, perhaps to be attributed to disease, or the composing draught of the previous night, “ I have for a great while played the first part—perhaps I have now the most difficult—the next will be mere dumb show, the part of a mute in the churchyard scene. I have played every speaking part in Hamlet, from the prince to the grave digger; the next will be the skull. Some fellow with a dirty spade will be thumping me on the pate ; or some learned philosopher will read a homily on the effects of the passions or appetites upon the bones of the cranium, for the benefit of medicine or morals.
* Where be your gibes now!-Quite chap-fallen !—Well, well, • And a man's life is no more than to say, one."" The dying man, for such he was, appeared
less to feel his situation than any one present-Spiffard and Davenport more, There was silence for a time, which was broken by the audible sobs of Trustworthy, who had been sitting by the foot of the bed, but not being able to repress his emotion, started up and left the room.
Cooke, on hearing and seeing this, hid his face on the pillow for a few moments, and then looking up with recovered firmness, addressed Doctor Cadwallader.
“ I thank you, Doctor, for being frank with me. I thought it must be so. I have often been racked with pain similar to, but more violent than I have lately felt; but I never thought
it was death's hand that was on me till to-day. I am now comparatively free from pain. I have whimpered, and whined, as you know, Mr. Spiffard, and have been as maudlin at one time, as brutal at another. I see it all now. I have no disposition to be lachrymose; but if I could undo some of the mischief I have done, I should be the happier for it. That's past—that's past!—but I have a strong desire to see and serve-essentially serve those who preserved me when I otherwise should have perished like a houseless cur in the snow of the streets. Mr. Spiffard, you know—that night!-0 that night! It is present in my dreams; and oftener, in my waking reveries; oftener than my words have indicated. That night! That night.”
“ Your feelings are too much excited.” “ I must prohibit talking.”
“ Nay, Doctor, a few minutes longer or shorter-an hour more or less-matters not now; but a deed of justice matters much. There was a young nymph-like figure that hovered around me—an angel-perhaps a token of forgiveness. I recognised her as one I had seen before-but then there were others that I thought I had seen and heard before ; but that was madness. Mr. Spiffard, you have acknowledged that you know who the angel was.”
“ I have told you, Sir. It was the niece of Mrs. Epsom.” “ Can I see her? Do I know her ?" “ You once rescued her from insult at the theatre." " I remember! and she rescued me from death. Can I
see her ?"
Spiffard assured him that he thought she would attend at his request.
The physicians interfered to prevent excitement, and told him that it was only on condition of his being composed, they .could promise him the power to express . bis gratitude to Miss Portland. He promised obedience, and his physicians, leaving such medicines as were necessary, departed. Spiffard, promising him to bring Emma to see him, left him with his faithful attendants.
The next morning Spiffard conducted Emma Portland to the bed side of the grateful old man. She might have felt some reluctance at the thought of being brought forward to receive thanks for what appeared to her as the common duty of humanity, but she had higher views and holier hopes to sup
She knew, though her conductor did not, the relation in
which her betrothed and his mother stood to the erring man. They had determined to remain unknown to him, and to continue the name and character in which they had heretofore appeared in the country of their adoption. There were perhaps engagements which he had entered into on the supposition of their death, which were not to be broken or disturbed. But Emma, among other hopes, felt a wish to be, although in secret, a link between the man who was to be her husband the woman who was already her second mother--and the penitent who had abandoned them; and worse, driven them from him.
Unhesitatingly she approached the man who only twice before had been in her presence; once acting as her guardian and proteetor from insult, and once wanting even such protection as her weak frame, but strong mind, could give, to save him from death-the death of the unsheltered outcast wanderer.
Cooke held out his hand and welcomed the lovely girl. At his request, and with the permission of one of his kind physicians, he was bolstered up, as he said, “ to look once more on the face of an angel.”
“ I am sorry, sir,” said Emma, blushing, " to see you so reduced in strength."
“ You have seen me in a worse plight.”
" I have seen you a gallant knight rescuing a forlorn damsel from the attack of a monster,” she said, smiling.
“ Monster, indeed, that would injure you !”
“ And I hope to see you again protecting the weak, and aiding the distressed.”
No, no !” “ Mr. Cooke,” said his physician, “ you must make your interview short."
“ Well, well, I will obey. First, my dear young lady, receive my thanks for saving me from a dog's death. Don't say a word. I must be concise. You must do me a favour. I understand that the good people who received me under their roof on that right, have had a happy reverse of fortune. They, therefore, do not need, and have refused, pecuniary tokens of my gratitude. Be it so. You must mediate be. tween them and me. You must prevail on the lady to receive and wear a ring, as a remembrancer. You must give it with my blessing and thanks—no one can deny you. Trusty! in my desk, of which you keep the key, you will find in the left hand drawer a ring-case. Bring it to me.” It was brought
“ This ring has had no owner for twenty years and more-let it remind that good lady that George Frederick died gratefully remembering her.”
He sunk back after Emma had received the jewel. The physician hurried her and Spiffard out of the room. hour from that time the worn-out frame of the great tragedian was lifeless.*
* The remains of George Frederick Cooke were buried in St. Paul's Church Yard, New-York, (after certain portions were abstracted,) and a monument was some years afterwards placed over them by Edmund Kean, a man of great genius, who followed in Cooke's steps, and exceeded him, if not in skill, certainly in depravity; and of course sunk earlier in life to debility, disease, and the tomb. The writer of Kean's life tells us a story of Kean and Cooke's great toe. If other parts of his book are as accurate, his hero, who is represented as a profligate, may have been a saint. It is true, that Kean carried, as a relic, to England, a fragment of the man he imitated. It was the bones of ihat fore-finger with which George Frederick enforced the words of his author in a manner never to be forgotten by those who saw him on the stage.
It has been my iask to exhibit, I hope for the good of my fellow creatures, the effects of intemperance upon the external appearance, conduct, moral character and happiness of this extraordinary man, and I have called upon Dr. John W. Francis, one of his physicians, to aid me, by showing the internal ravages of the fiend upon those organs which the beneficent Author of Nature has given for our comfort and usefulness, as evinced in the case of Mr. Cooke and others. I make an extract from his most valuable reply to my interrogatories: a portion of which is already given.
“Évery body knows that intemperance exercises a singularly direct influence on the liver: the pancreas and the spleen are also deeply affected hy long continued inebriety, particularly the pancreas. The researches of the pathologist have led him to describe several striking alterations in the liver. It may become, by free drinking, preternaturally hard or scirrhous; be converted into an entire mass of tubercles; and these may be more or less deep seated or superficial, with or without abscess; its whole structure may also be changed: it may be rendered, by undue excitement, congested and obstructed, and become extraordinarily enlarged; and we may here remark, that the inordinate plethora of the blood vessels, which so repeatedly accompanies excess in eating and hard drinking, evinces its powers particularly on this organ. But many pages could be devoted to a description of the diseased changes which have been noticed in this important part of the human economy. I once asked old Mr. Fife, the anatomist at Edinburgh, who was dissector at the University, how great was the largest sized liver he had ever encountered in his examination of dead bodies for collegiate purposes? He answered fifty-seven pounds!! and this oceurred in the person of an inebriate who had long lived in the East Indies. You may judge the more accurately of the ponderosity of this liver, when you reflect that the ordinary size of the organ may vary from four to seven or eight or nine pounds; and you might infer that such a liver would have formed bile enough for an army; yet this man died from the deficiency of this secretion. The livers of those who abuse their constitution by alcoholic, or distilled drink, is, however, generally preternaturally diminished and found in a scirrhous state; while fermented drinks will the rather aug ment the volume of the organ; such at least I have found to be the face in several dissections. In poor George Frederick Cooke, as you may ret collect, the liver was very small, studded with tubercles, and as hard ascartilage. The pancreas, so important to serve healthy digestion, under
On the return of Spiffard and Emma to Mrs. Epsom's, they found Henry Johnson. It was Emma's intention to visit Mrs. Johnson and execute her trust in private ; but before she left home for this purpose, Davenport brought the tidings to Spiffard of the death of Cooke, and in all haste the young man repaired with the messenger to the spot, where he still found the physician. Henry and Emma repaired to Mrs. Johnson's. The
young bearer of thanks delivered the message. But on the sight of the ring Mrs. Johnson was deeply affected.
“ My children," she said, after being relieved by tears, " this ring was a present to me before marriage. When I fled my country I returned it. See how it has come again. Henry! ought I not to see him ?”
“ It is too late, madam, if it were right-it is too late. This message to you was the last sentence he spoke."
Strange as it may appear, the health of that amiable woman was restored ; seemingly mending from that time. She lived long to witness and enjoy the happiness of Henry and Emma. He, after a time, the prosperous partner of Littlejohn & Co., as well as of the once Emma Portland. She a thriving partner in a no less prosperous concern. The prosperity of both houses based on the immoveable foundation of temperance.
goes many alterations in the bodies of inebriates; a scirrhous condition is perhaps the most frequent. The spleen seems most to suffer from the consequences of inordinate excitement, and becomes overloaded."
Other parts of the economy are also brought to suffer from the rebellious influence of alcohol; but I should trespass far beyond the prescribed limits. to detail them here. Enough has perhaps already been given in these imperfect notes; a large catalogue would neither suit your plan, nor my present convenience. Moreover, exc pede Herculem."
Very sincerely your friend,
J. W. FRANCIS.
WM. DUNLAP, Esq.